Think you hate the cold? Meet the Montreal girl who's 'allergic' to it
Eryn Margolese’s routine before going outside this time of year would sound familiar to a lot of Montrealers.
“Depending on how cold it is, I'll wear two pairs of pants,” says the 15-year-old. “And I'll always wear, like, long sleeves, jackets, hat, gloves, scarves—everything.”
Nobody likes to be cold. But for Margolese, it’s not quite the same thing.
In 2020, she started getting a strange rash at odd times: raised, itchy red bumps on her skin that could take hours to go away. She tried to ignore it.
“I didn’t really know what was happening,” she said. “I just had some rash, and I was like ‘OK, that’s weird,’ and then it kept happening and I had no idea what it was.”
Finally, she went to “a bunch of doctors” and they tried to help. Maybe it was a kind of soap or laundry detergent she was reacting to, they theorized. But she hadn’t been using any new products.
Finally, an allergist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital had a new idea.
Dr. Moshe Ben-Shoshan took an ice cube and put it on Margolese’s arm. The rash quickly appeared, and he knew exactly what the problem was.
In such “ice cube tests,” he explained, “we wait five minutes and then we observe the development of hives aftewards.”
Margolese had come with a story he recognized, he said—“a classic story of going swimming or going outside in cold weather and developing hives.”
He broke the news to her: she was allergic to chilly temperatures, more or less, with a condition called cold urticaria. It’s not exactly an allergy, but a reaction to cold that looks a lot like an allergy and can even produce life-threatening anaphylaxis.
It affects about 30,000 Canadians, most of them young people, Ben-Shoshan told CTV News.
“Any one of us will get redness where we put the ice cube, but this patient will get hives,” he said.
“It looks like an allergy because you get the hives. But the trigger is not an allergen like peanut or… pollen,” he said.
“Basically the exposure to cold is assumed to generate an auto-allergen, so a substance that your immune system reacts to.”
Doctors are still trying to understand the condition, but it’s the substance produced within the sufferers’ bodies that creates the skin reaction.
“When you think about an allergy, you try to look for an external trigger that you can remove from your environment, like you know, a food… or a cat or a dog,” the doctor explained.
“This is different," he said. "In order to control it you need to control your internal environment by keeping your temperature warmer, by protecting your exposed surface areas, by taking antihistamines and in cases that are more severe,” having an epinephren injector.
For Margolese, the news was hard to hear. One of her main triggers wasn’t winter weather, but being at summer camp and swimming or boating every day in a cold lake, which she loved.
Now, she can’t do that the same way. She has to wade slowly in and pay attention to her reactions, Ben-Shoshan said—jumping in is not an option.
Anaphylaxis is rare in people with cold urticaria, with a review of 10 years of research showing it can happen in about 20 per cent of patients. But when such a severe reaction happens, it’s usually from quickly plunging into cold water or other very sudden temperature changes.
Margolese also takes antihistamines every day now and carries an emergency injector. Montreal winter also poses some special problems, she says.
“I'll sometimes walk my dog, but it'll be a much shorter walk and I'll go outside less,” she said.
Other things are surprising. She can eat cold treats like ice cream, but can’t necessarily hold onto a cold drink for a long time without protecting the skin on her hands.
The Montreal Children’s Hospital said in a release that the disorder affects girls slightly more commonly than boys.
Ben-Shoshan said the condition is more common in northern latitudes, including in Canada. It can last for a long time, often 10 years or more, and while for some people it goes away, for others it can last for life.
Margolese says that now that she’s had some time to live with the new precautions, she’s “used to it,” though not happy about having to give up cold pools and lakes.
And in winter, if Margolese’s family used to have to remind her, like many teens, to wear gloves or zip up her jacket, those days are long gone.
“I was never too cautious in the cold. It was kind of like if I'm walking from my house to my car, it's like whatever… having gloves is not a big issue,” she said.
Now, “I wouldn't slip up.”
Montreal Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Two people were struck and killed by falling trees during a severe thunderstorm that hit most of southern Ontario Saturday afternoon.
The United Kingdom's former prime minister Tony Blair says Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine is an 'act of madness.' In an interview on CTV's Question Period airing Sunday, Blair said Putin doesn't appear to be the same man he knew in the early 2000s.
The federal government is reporting a sharp rise in influenza in recent months, at a time of the year when detected cases generally start to fall in Canada.
Health officials in Toronto say they are investigating the first suspected case of monkeypox in the city.
As the May long weekend kicked off, a massive thunderstorm in southern Ontario brought strong wind gusts that knocked down trees, took out power and left at least two people dead.
Roberta Drury, a 32-year-old woman who was the youngest of the 10 Black people killed at a Buffalo supermarket, was remembered at her funeral Saturday for her love for family and friends, tenacity 'and most of all, that smile that could light up a room.'
Why does smoke seem to follow you around a campfire? B.C. research scientist Kerry Anderson told CTVNews.ca the answer actually boils down to physics.
Some drivers in Toronto may be feeling on edge as Toronto is dealing with a rash of violent carjackings targeting mostly high-end vehicles.
The nightmares started last May, said Harvey McLeod, chief of the Upper Nicola Indian Band and a survivor of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
Marineland has banned a number of people from its premises, some of whom have never visited the Niagara Falls, Ont., tourist attraction, days before the facility was set to open for the season.
A section of Dartmouth's Burnside Industrial Park was shut down Friday after a fire in a scrapyard triggered alerts and air quality warnings.
A few dozen friends, family members, and strangers gathered in Spryfield, N.S., on Saturday to search for a teenager who disappeared three months ago.
Claudia Chender is the unopposed candidate running to be the next leader of Nova Scotia's New Democratic Party.
The first day of the Victoria Day long weekend saw a fast-moving severe thunderstorm roll through London late morning and cause significant damage, including downed trees and power outages.
It was definitely a night to remember for people in attendance at Labatt Park on Friday evening after a reported gas leak forced the evacuation of the park during the season opener.
The flames were so intense from Thursday’s early morning fire in Hanover that Lisa Schnittker started grabbing her things to evacuate, fearing the flames would spread to her home.
With the price of gas rising above $2 per litre and setting new records in Canada this year, CTVNews.ca looks at what goes into the price per litre of gasoline and where the situation could go from here.
The cooling housing market has left some buyers with mortgages that can't cover the full cost of their home following an appraisal. Toronto-based mortgage broker Mary Sialtsis discusses what options these buyers have.
Here are some of the activities you can check out this long holiday weekend in Sudbury, North Bay and Timmins.
'Won’t open them until we win': Flames fan hopes to pop Champagne bottles meant for '04 Stanley Cup run
It was almost exactly 18 years ago when Calgary Flames fan Shane Byciuk managed to sneak two bottles of Champagne into the Saddledome for Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup finals.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he will not be running in the race to pick a new leader of the United Conservative party.
A frost advisory was issued for most of central and southern Alberta by Environment Canada Saturday afternoon.
Ontario Provincial Police are investigating a death in Brant County after a tree fell on a camping trailer on Saturday.
A severe thunderstorm caused extensive damage, fallen trees, downed hydro lines and power outages across Waterloo Region on Saturday.
It’s the first May long weekend since the City of Waterloo made changes to its fireworks bylaw and city staff said some residents are not obeying the new rules.
Vancouver police are investigating an unprovoked bear spray attack on a senior in Chinatown Friday morning that they say was preceded by racist comments.
A man who walked into a Metro Vancouver bank last year and handed the teller a note saying he would "start shooting" unless he was given "at least $10,000" has been sentenced to four years in prison for the robbery.
developing | Man shot in Surrey Saturday morning, RCMP say
Mounties in Surrey are investigating a shooting at a home in the city's Whalley neighbourhood Saturday morning.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he will not be running in the race to pick a new leader of his United Conservative party.
Duncan Keith had been here before.
The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village is hosting its grand opening for the summer season this weekend.
Every day since the owner of Thanasi's Olympus Greek Restaurant in Windsor, Ont. announced he would be retiring, Nick Pontikis says the place has been packed like it would be on New Year's Eve.
On Friday, the International Union of Operating Engineers ratified a new three-year contract, ending the strike that started in late April.
With the construction season in Saskatchewan getting underway; the provincial government laid out its plans to improve approximately 1,100 km of provincial highways in 2022.
Ten children in Canada were found to be suffering from severe acute hepatitis not caused by known hepatitis viruses over a nearly six-month period recently, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced Friday.
While the May long weekend is known as the unofficial start of summer, oftentimes in Saskatchewan, the holiday weekend comes with cold weather.
Severe thunderstorm warnings are in effect for Ottawa and parts of eastern Ontario as a powerful storm moves across the province.
OC Transpo says the O-Train Line 1 will be replaced by R1 bus service until further notice between Blair and Tunney’s Pasture stations.
A nine-year-old Quebec boy has started his own business, offering to help clear garden space with the help of a mini pig, who digs up bugs, roots and weeds.
Saskatoon police investigating after reports of shots fired, man found dead behind apartment building
Saskatoon police are investigating after reports of two men being injured, shots fired and one person found dead.